Why Beehiiv Is the Platform of Choice for Star Writers Like Jack Raines
Updated: Jan 5
Have you ever dreamed of turning your writing passion into a successful career? Meet Jack Raines, the mastermind behind the Young Money Newsletter – a publication that has amassed over 26,000 subscribers and earned him a six-figure annual income in just two short years. How did Jack achieve this level of success? By leveraging the power of content-based platforms like Beehiiv and Substack.
In a previous article, I discussed the potential of these platforms. ‘Star’ writers like Jack account for the majority of success in writing. Attracting them is crucial for any writing platform. In this article, we sit down with Jack to delve into his journey as a writer and find out why he chose Beehiiv's platform. His insights show how important their unique personalities and audience relationships are to becoming a successful writer.
For investors and writers alike, learn how Beehiiv's alignment with these writers positions it for long-term success.*
* All opinions are personal. This is not investment advice.
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Stand Out by Finding Your ‘Zone of Genius’ – Jack’s Journey to Young Money
All of us have the power to be writers. First, we need to decide what we want to write about. I initially met Jack in his Business of Newsletters course that he ran with Nathan Baugh, another successful writer. To stand out, Jack hammered home the need to find your ‘Zone of Genius’. Think about this as your sweet-spot where your passion meets your expertise.
Jack began his career as a financial analyst with plans to “climb the corporate ladder and make as much money as possible.” No finance degree could prepare him for what came next.
Shortly after starting at UPS, the world experienced the COVID lockdowns and Jack’s real financial education began. He began trading in high octane finance products like options and SPACs.
“Physically, I was "training" to be UPS's finest financial analyst. Mentally, I was thinking about becoming the next Michael Burry.” Jack Raines
He came closer to this goal than you might guess. At its peak, Jack’s trading turned $6,000 into $400,000. Such a spectacular amount “shouldn’t have been possible for a dumb 23 year old.” He details his wild ride here.
Surprisingly, his success wasn’t making him happy. All he could think about was making more. He spent every waking moment thinking about the market and it was stressing him out.
When he lost nearly $150,000 in a single trade, Jack walked away from trading with the rest of his gains. He had experienced something in his early 20s that most people never would in their entire lives. He realised there is more to life than money. Jack had found his ‘zone of genius’.
“Your money. Your career. Your time. Three variables that will forever be intertwined. Yet we rarely take the time to stop and think about them … I write stories to help you think about those whys.” Young Money Newsletter by Jack Raines
How Writing Can Become Your Superpower
I started writing during the seemingly never ending COVID lockdowns in Melbourne. It was a way for me to break the isolation and connect to the world around me. Jack’s experience shows how writing can also be a superpower. How? By improving your decision making, building your network and turbocharging your ability to learn.
Writing requires building a fluid narrative that your audience can follow. It forces you to really think through concepts which changes the way you make decisions.
“Being able to write something out gives you a huge advantage. You have a well-thought out rationale for any decision you make.” Jack Raines
Jack is currently an MBA student at Columbia University in New York. Even in such a pretentious, Ivy League university, Jack’s writing has made him one of the most networked students there.
“One of the biggest benefits is how it has turned into a gateway for meeting people. They take an interest because of my content. This opens the door to meeting them.” Jack Raines
He has been interviewed by Rachel Braun in Jason Calacanis’s leading venture show, This Week in Startups, and has formed personal relationships with award winning finance authors like Morgan Housel. Imagine how you could turbocharge your learning by talking directly to experts in your chosen field.
Like most superpowers, there is a catch. Being a successful writer takes courage and resilience.
How Personality and Distribution Determine a Writer’s Success
Remember the ‘Passion’ part of the ‘zone of genius? It gives your writing its personality. The problem - it’s scary putting your views out there because you leave yourself open to criticism. Yet, good writing is all about personality and having a point of view.
Jack doesn’t shy away from showing who he is. His post below says it all.
It also takes time to be a successful writer. Jack took 9 months, 90 articles and nearly 2,000 hours of consistent writing before he started earning money as a successful writer. It wasn’t just about content either.
“You can write good stuff but if no one sees it, it doesn’t matter.” Jack Raines
Jack estimates nearly 60% of his time was spent on distribution. His biggest tip – build relationships with well-known experts in your field and leverage their audience.
Jack reached out to people on social media, commented frequently on their posts and shared his work by directly messaging them. Eventually, these experts began to share his work with their audiences. Their influence helped Jack reach a point of ‘escape velocity’ where his audience began generating subscriber growth on their own.
With a newsletter publishing twice per week, a large 26,000 subscriber base and a 6-figure income, Jack is a core customer for content publishing platforms like Beehiiv and Substack. Jack’s reasons for choosing Beehiiv show why it will become the dominant newsletter publishing platform.
How Beehiiv Turbocharges Jack’s Audience Growth
Newsletter platforms like Substack and Beehiiv took off during the pandemic which led to Substack raising $65m in March 2021. Founded just 18 months ago, Beehiiv has been growing rapidly. Both Beehiiv and Substack give writers tools to build an audience around their newsletter publication. It’s how they do this that makes all the difference.
Beehiiv was founded by Tyler Denk, Benjamin Hargett and Jake Hurd. They are the engineering and product team behind the Morning Brew newsletter. The content and growth tools they built enabled Morning Brew to grow to 2 million subscribers and achieve a reported $75m acquisition exit by Business Insider.
With Beehiiv, the founders are democratising the custom technology and analytical tools that made Morning Brew successful. They turbocharge a writer’s audience growth.
For example, Jack highlighted audience analytics as an area where Beehiiv shines.
“Substack’ s analytics is a lot more barebones especially on audience acquisition, which is one of the most important data points.” Jack Raines
To grow, writers need to understand where their audience is coming from to focus their effort on the right acquisition channels. You can see the level of detail Beehiiv provides below.
Another popular feature is Beehiiv’s new Recommendations feature which allows Beehiiv’s network of writers to cross promote newsletters. Writers select other newsletters to recommend to their new subscribers. New subscribers can subscribe to these newsletters with a few clicks during the sign-up process.
“I probably get 80-100 subscribers per day without me having to actively promote my work.” Jack Raines
Jack described this as a ‘game changer’. The catch is this system works on reciprocity. To be mutually beneficial, writers typically need at least ‘5,000-10,000’ subscribers.
Therefore, recommendations introduce a virtuous cycle of successful writers attracting more successful writers. It signals Beehiiv’s evolution from a pure SaaS provider into a platform benefitting from network effects.
Substack has a similar recommendation engine and other powerful features. There is an important difference that is a deal-breaker for successful writers like Jack.
“Substack has a lot of this stuff too but I don’t like how they are trying to funnel everything into their app.” Jack Raines
What’s the problem with an app? It dilutes the very thing that make writers like Jack successful – their personality.
The Amazon vs Shopify Comparison and Why It’s Different for Writers
Does every brand look the same to you on Amazon? Building a brand on Amazon is hard. Amazon wants its enormous customer base to make as many transactions on its marketplace as possible.
To make the customer buying decision efficient, Amazon groups their eCommerce sellers into common categories and features. Customers build a relationship with Amazon’s seamless shopping experience and brand. Meanwhile, every seller on Amazon looks alike and without personality.
This is in contrast to Shopify’s approach to provide their sellers the tools and infrastructure to sell online. Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke famously said,
“Amazon is trying to build an empire and Shopify is trying to arm the rebels.” Tobias Lütke, Shopify CEO and Co-founder.
Tobias draws the distinction between 2 classic business models in technology, Aggregators and Platforms.
By providing the relevant software and infrastructure, Platforms like Beehiiv and Shopify enable their users to build direct relationships with their customers. Their business models are more transparent and aligned with their users who use more features as their businesses grow.
In contrast, Aggregators position themselves between users and their customers. This is the business model Substack has chosen with its app strategy.
This isn’t inherently ‘bad’. Substack’ s app is a great customer experience with all your Substack subscriptions in one place. Features such as ‘Discover’ also make it a powerful customer acquisition engine.
The trade off is readers are building a relationship with the app experience instead of individual writers. This positions Substack to capture more of the value from its writers’ work.
Here’s the thing about writing. Writers are in the business of content, where it’s all about ‘star’ writers like Jack.
How Attracting the Best Writers Is Only the Beginning for Beehiiv
The power law is used to describe relationships where a small number of participants receive the majority of the gains. You hear it often in venture capital where a small number of ‘star’ investments make up the majority of the investment returns.
After analysing data from the New York Times and other sources, Facebook engineer Michael Tauberg found this relationship in a variety of written content.
In writing, success tends to breed more success. As their audiences grow, writers get more feedback and recommendations. Jack sees his audience as his greatest asset.
“You become a better writer by seeing what pieces people like and dislike … As your audience grows, more people reply to your emails. That’s how you know you’ve written a really good piece.” Jack Raines.
Successful writers like Jack are a rare commodity. They attract the bulk of the audience and deserve a greater share of the rewards. The problem Substack will face is the growing incentive for their successful writers to churn as they grow.
These writers will be drawn to Platforms like Beehiiv where they have control over their brand personalities and audience relationships. Gathering successful writers is like assembling The Avengers from Marvel’s superhero series. Their passionate audience act as the beacon attracting more participants onto the Platform through a series of network effects. Therefore, we’re only seeing the beginnings of what’s possible on Beehiiv.
Successful writers like Jack understand that their personality and audience are their greatest assets. Their daring might invite criticism but attracts a passionate audience that spread their work far and wide. These ‘star’ writers are few and far between – but they will account for most of the audience.
By aligning with these ‘star’ writers, Beehiiv's platform approach gathers their audience onto one platform where they act as a beacon for other writers, readers and advertisers. We're just beginning to see the potential of Beehiiv which could become a leading platform for writers.
For investors and writers alike, I suggest you check out Beehiiv's platform to see what these ‘star’ writers are excited about.
And if you want to learn about how to become a successful writer, I highly recommend checking out Jack's newsletter Young Money (think finance with an attitude) and his Business of Newsletters course, which he teaches with Nathan Baugh. These resources will help find your unique voice and build a passionate audience of your own.
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